By Wale Ibrahim, Lokoja
The Speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly, Prince Matthew Kolawole has disclosed that the House had taken public hearing option in considering the Local Government autonomy bill in view of the position already taken by National Union of Teachers (NUT).
Kolawole disclosed this during in an interactive session with members of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the state council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Lokoja.
The Speaker said the Local Government autonomy bill was the most contentious among the 15 Alteration Bills sent to the House by the National Assembly for consideration and approval.
“In fact, at the Speaker’s conference we have looked into the bill critically and discovered that the most contentious among the 15 items was that of the local government autonomy.
“I am a product of local government because the votes that took me to the assembly came from the local government.
“I represent Kabba/Bunu state constituency and I want the Local Government to enjoy autonomy, but in a situation where we want to pass a law and we discover that there is a petition, we will have to refer the bill to public hearing.
“And that is exactly what we have done but some people see our action as throwing away the bill which is not true.
“The NUT sent a petition demanding that they should be separated from the local government autonomy, their grouse was that the local government Chairmen do not pay their salaries and allowances as at when due”, he said.
The Speaker said that the NUT also demanded that their pay should come directly from the Federation Account to avoid the usual hiccups that had trailed smooth payment of their salaries.
Kolawole hinted that even at the Speaker’s Conference, it was resolved that the bills should not be passed until the contentious issues and complaints from the petition were solved.
“And the only way it can be solved is by referring the autonomy to public hearing where the NULGE, NUT, Civil Society Organizations and the general public will sit down and discuss the issue.”
He added that the petitioners would have to convince the House with reasons why they wanted to opt out of the local government arrangement for the House to take a stand on the issue.
The Speaker however, hinted that the public hearing would commence as soon as the members resumed from their recess.